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Experts warn holiday shoppers of dangerous toys

Safety experts are reminding holiday shoppers that many toys still on store shelves can be deadly for children.
November 26, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
The California Public Interest Research Group and Children's Hospital Los Angeles are reminding holiday shoppers that many toys still on store shelves can be deadly for children.

"At Children's Hospital, we see about 72,000 visits per year, many of them due to casual behaviors where adults put children at risk by having them play with types of toys that we see here, that are choking hazards, that are swallowing hazards, et cetera," said Dr. Jeffrey Upperman, a pediatric surgeon at Children's Hospital Los Angeles.

When buying toys, especially for children under three, you should pay special attention to what they're made of. Officials say many toys still contain toxins like lead.

"We recommend that if parents are buying a toy for a toddler, they err towards cloth or wood toys, because we know toddlers like to put everything in their mouth," said Austin Price, California Public Interest Research Group.

One thing you should always consider when buying kids toys is the tube test: If the toy or any part of the toy fits inside of a toilet-paper roll, it's too small.

"Parents should pay particular attention to ball-shaped toys, since they are more likely to block the breathing passage. And then also toys that are meant to look like food," said Price. "Obviously, if they look like food it's more likely that a child will put it in their mouth."

Also, magnets, if swallowed, can cause severe internal organ damage.

And experts warn that seemingly harmless noise-making toys can cause significant hearing damage in young children.

Some parents say they look for certain things before bringing home a toy or accepting it as a gift for their children.

"I pay attention, I read the back, what is written about the toys," said Glendale resident Lucy Gordilyan. "They shouldn't be able to swallow it, it shouldn't be sharp, and what it is made of."

And it's also a good idea to teach your children these safety tips for themselves so they can watch out for younger siblings.

Experts say also to consider not only the child you're buying the toy for but any other children living in that household.